In Peterborough, Ontario, where I grew up in the 1970s and played a lot of road hockey in so doing, we took turns in the nets. David Bodrug had actual goalie pads, trapper and blocker, and the gearing up was the main attraction when the time came for me to be tending goal. That and the chance for nonchalant posing, Ken-Drydenate, with arms resting atop pillared stick while the tennis ball was down at the other end. As the action drew closer, you’d hunker back down at the top of the crease that wasn’t really there, wait for the shot. If it was the right one, you might kick out a leg while snagging the ball in your outstretched glove as ostentatiously as possible. For full effect, you’d hold the pose, as for a beat or three. Flashing the leather, the play-by-play men sometimes call this on hockey broadcasts, though on Roper Drive we had our own term: pulling a Rogie.
Born on this date in 1945 in Palmarolle, Quebec, Rogatien Vachon turns 73 today. He got his start in the NHL under that same name, distinguishing himself in the playoffs when starter Gump Worsley. By the time we were watching him in the ’70s, he was just Rogie, a King now, in Los Angeles. It was there that he spent the best years of his Hall-of-Fame career, wearing the number 30 that the Kings would later retire, and that tiny grin on his plum-purple mask. According to a 1972 profile by David Cobb in The Canadian Magazine, Vachon ended up in goal because, as a boy on the wintertime rink, he was small among bigger brothers and cousins. “A doctoral thesis might be prepared one day,” Cobb writes, “to assess the effect of childhood puniness on the formation of NHL goalies.” He could have strayed, in time, of course, but he chose to stay on. “You really have to enjoy it,” Vachon said, “to play goal for long.”
No-one lives by Toronto’s bylaw banning street hockey because to do so would be wrong, not to mention unCanadian. If we want to grab our Kohos and head out beyond the curb with Sean and Eric and Emily from across the street — they have their own nets — then that of course is what we’ll do.
Not that we have done it, for a while now. Have Sean and Eric and Emily? It’s been a while since we saw them, let alone their nets. Still. We could, and would, if we felt like it, out we’d go without fear of bylaw officers or surly neighbours or weather of snow or dark of night, until our moms called us in for supper. Fear of cars, obviously, we would have: they do come tearing around the corner pretty fast, just the thought of which can panic us enough that we forget to yell “Car!”
But. Anyway. The bylaw. A Toronto city councillor, Josh Matlow, was seeking to free us all and wipe it away just because it’s wrong & etc. Until city staff told him, no, that wouldn’t work because what about the liability? So then the Councillor was pushing a staff plan by which residents could apply for an exemption to the bylaw if their street could meet certain conditions. Other than the ridiculous amount of leg- and paperwork required and widespread public and political derision for the whole plan, it seemed like a pretty good idea.
Today, though, Councillor Matlow admitted defeat, abandoning the whole ban ban. Which means we’re back to where we were, with our Kohos that we might well grab at any moment, as long as Sean, Eric, Emily and their nets are up for it.